Oliver Hotel hit hard by the blasts, says owner

DANOK - Two days ago, Oliver Hotel in this "Christmas town" had no room to spare.

Yesterday, it was a derelict building with zero occupancy, after a series of bombs went off here and in other border towns.

Hotel owner Supanee Tanratta-nakorn, 53, said all rooms had been taken up for the weekend, mainly by Malaysians.

"Fortunately, most of them had checked out just before the blast. Those who were still at the hotel packed their stuff and left after the blasts," she said when met outside the hotel's entrance in Thanon Tanrattanakorn 2.

Supanee estimated her losses at about 70million baht (RM7million, S$2.69million).

"We have 142 rooms and it was full on the day of the attack."

The hotel has now been shut down as electricity was cut off after the blasts.

Town residents started to clear the debris and remove wreckage at about 3.30pm yesterday.

A booth was also set up by government officials to receive claims for compensation for the damages suffered.

Pub owner Chen Chantiwanong said she cheated death while parking her car in Thanon Tanrattanakorn 2 shortly before the blast.

"I was going to my pub to do some cleaning up. Then, I heard a really loud explosion and saw glass shattering everywhere.

"Had I reached the pub then, I would have died in the explosion," she said.

Besides Oliver Hotel, the Paragon Club just behind the hotel was also badly damaged. Its entrance had totally collapsed.

A Christmas tree set up at the entrance of the discotheque had also come crashing down, along with the festive mood of the town.

A spokesman from the Songkhla Governor's office, Abdul Karim Mahmud, said Danok was one of the most happening places in the country during Christmas due to the huge influx of Malaysian tourists.

"It becomes like a Christmas town. Parties are everywhere and all the clubs, pubs and discos would be packed to the brim," he said.

"If it had happened at night, I wouldn't even dare imagine the number of casualties."

Yesterday afternoon, Danok was deserted, with most shops remaining closed while those few still operating struggled to find customers as visitors fled by the droves following the blasts.